Big Tobacco has a history of lying. For most of the 20th Century, the industry denied that nicotine is addictive and smoking is dangerious. But in private, tobacco executives knew. Company documents prove it.
Hollywood has a history of pretending, too. Smoking on screen does not “reflect reality.” It conforms to the themes in tobacco advertising. It almost never shows the health effects of smoking. It exaggarates the wealth and status of smokers. It claims that smoking is needed for “authenticity” or “historical accuracy” when the film itself is about King Kong or a comic book character with superpowers.
The film industry sometimes claims only “bad guys” smoke anymore. In fact, more on-screen smokers are heroes than villains. At the same time, bad guy characters who smoke exert stronger influence on young audiences. In the end, researchers found, harm from good guy and bad guy smokers is about equal.
Smoking in movies accellerated after 1990 when Big Tobacco promised
Congress it would stop paying for brand placement in
in PG13 movies increased 50% in the first two
years (1999-2000) after Big Tobacco signed agreements
with the state Attorneys General promising to end product
placement in movies.
Smoking in the Movies Does Not Reflect Reality
- In the real world, smokers tend to be poor and less
educated. In the movies, it is the powerful and successful
who smoke the most.
- In the real world, smoking kills smokers.
- In the real world, smokers' families suffer while
the tobacco industry accumulates billions in profts.
- In the real world, second-hand smoke kills nonsmokers.
- In the real world, tobacco accounts for more suffering
and death than homicide, suicide, illegal drugs and